Letter to the Editor

Vietnam soldier heroes

These men were exemplary heroes in a time when people were calling them by other derogatory names, yet they put on their uniforms and performed their duty. Most were drafted and many volunteered for a monthly pay of less than $100 per month, and there were no lucrative enlistment bonuses. They engaged in combat in an era without the support of sophisticated technology that today's combat soldier relies upon. The command and leadership of the war at home was at best unorganized and at worst chaotic.

The front line commanders were asked to lead a war with their hands tied. The death toll of the two desert wars pales in comparison to the 58,000 lives lost in Vietnam. It demonstrates the lack of unity of purpose between the combat soldier and the civilian leadership that the desert wars had.

When their tour of duty was finished, they returned to a cold and unappreciative homecoming -- no celebrations, no parades and no media events. Except for maybe a family member, they were pretty much unrecognized for their duty to country. Draft dodgers received more gratitude than the Vietnam vet. Media investigators were not concerned with the medical care of the wounded. There were no follow-up stories concerning insufficient post-combat health care. The best technology for an amputee was an unmotorized wheelchair.

It is the combat soldier of Vietnam that I consider to be the "hero of heroes."

VAN RIEHL, Jackson